Friday, November 26, 1999
Home Depot debate is just beginning

Staff Writer


While Home Depot's site plans for a 137,184-sq. ft. store failed to pass muster by the Peachtree City Planning Commission Monday night, the debate over building a “big box” retail outlet in the city is just beginning.

The commission voted 4-1 Monday night to deny approval of project's site plans which cover 21.66 acres of the total parcel of 42.3 acres acres off Ga. Highway 54, despite city staff recommendations to the contrary. It was originally presented to the Planning Commission Oct. 11 and tabled.

In an overview of the project to the commission, city planner David Rast said, “The revised site plan responds to citys staff's suggestions and meets or exceeds all of the requirements and guidelines found within the city's land development ordinance.”

The designated property is zoned general commercial (GC), a category that would allow a Home Depot store. It is on the property owned by the Huddleston family, just west of the railroad bridge on Hwy. 54.

Key to making the retail center a reality is inclusion of a number of road improvements which must be built, or paid for by the developer. These upgrades are necessary to bring the project into compliance with the city's newly adopted traffic impact ordinance. An added condition states that the developer also must provide documentation from the Georgia Department of Transportation approving the highway modifications.

These improvements include retiming the traffic signal at the intersection of Ga. highways 54 and 74, prohibiting left turns onto Huddleston Road from the west bound lanes on Hwy. 54., and adding a signal at the entrance of the store across from Planterra Ridge.

The increased traffic load on the city's already crowded main arteries is the factor that concerned most citizens attending Monday night's meeting. Also, business owners along Huddleston Road were riled by the “no turn off Hwy. 54” proposal.

Jim Schultz, who owns Peachtree City Kennels on Fulton Court directly off Huddleston Road, claimed the city was doing “everything to accommodate Home Depot” and sacrificing established businesses along Huddleston Road.

John Proffitt said there are 47 commercial businesses and 37 industrial businesses that would be affected if the left turn lane onto Huddleston from Hwy. 54 were eliminated. He predicted the change would be a “sure killer” for Huddleston Road businesses. “You might as well write those businesses off.”

The traffic plan presented by Ed Ellis and prepared by Dames and Moore, a firm retained by Peachtree City to provide criteria for judging new developments, was poorly received by the audience. In a power point presentation, Ellis showed how cars, depicted by tiny moving dots, would flow through the 54/74 intersection smoothly, even at peak afternoon rush hours.

The site plans will likely be appealed before city council and the project developers, Ram Development Group, have also retained the law firm of Dillard and Galloway to represent them. Present Monday night was attorney Andrea Jones. “There is no legal justification not to make a decision tonight,” she told the commission. “Any denial of the application would be unconstitutional,” she said.

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